House exterior

I’m sorry to have neglected Crafty Nest for so long. But this time I have a great excuse. I bought my first house!

Here are some “before” pictures of my “new” house. It’s a 1927 Mediterranean bungalow, with loads of charm including original light fixtures, push-button switches, built-ins, and gorgeous hardwood floors.

Living room

It was a long process: house hunting for months, making offers and getting outbid, finally getting an offer accepted on my favorite house (yay!), signing hundreds of papers, and waiting for 60 days for the sale to close. I thought I’d never hold those keys in my hand.

View from dining room to living room

Then the home repairs started. The washing machine leaked, the refrigerator stopped working, the dryer was leaving marks on my clothes, the pipe in the bathroom leaked, ants invaded the garage and kitchen, and on and on.

I haven’t even gotten to the fun part, like choosing paint colors and decorating. I’m still unpacking. But I’m blissfully happy to be living in my own home. Read more »

Wine cork sealant test

For the record, I’m against sealing my wine cork bath mat. I mean, corks are exposed to the moisture of wine for decades and seem to hold up fine, right? But several readers insisted cork needed to be sealed, so I did some research on sealing cork. It seems the best option is probably a sealant that’s made for protecting the cork footbeds of sandals such as Birkenstocks. I bought a 2oz. jar of Sure Foot’s Cork Renew for $5 at my local shoe repair shop. Other brands include Birkenstock Cork Life, Kelly’s Cork Renew, or U-40 Cork Seal, which is designed to prolong the life of cork fishing rod handles.

Today I started applying the sealant one row at a time. I didn’t like the glossy, tacky feel of the sealant, so I was hesitant to keep going. My compromise: I painted the cork sealant on only half the bath mat, and I’ll compare the results in a few weeks. After letting it dry for a day, I’ll start the test on Monday and keep you posted with the results.

Wine cork bath mat sealant test results

UPDATE 4/2010: It’s four weeks later, and the unsealed side of the bath mat looks and feels like new. The sealed side started out quite sticky. Gradually, the tacky feel went away—only because everything stuck to that side. It acted like a giant lint roller. The sealed side isn’t sticky anymore, but it’s darker than the unsealed side (the difference is more noticeable in person). Btw: This photo was taken after I vacuumed as much of the stuck debris away as I could. I rotated the bath mat halfway through the trial to be fair to both sides.

UPDATE 8/2010: Still going strong. One cork popped off the corner. Hot glued it back on. Good as new.

UPDATE 9/2011: I recently tossed out the bathmat because the sealed side got too gross (with lint and debris sticking to it) and because the corks started popping off more frequently. No sign of mold. It lasted 18 months. Not bad. I plan to make another (unsealed) cork bath mat with better glue soon.

CONCLUSION: Unless you are in the habit of creating a swamp of your bathroom floor every time you shower (and you know who you are), unsealed wine cork bath mats can be expected to hold up as well as most store-bought bath mats. Because common sense isn’t as common as one might hope, I’ve put together a mini tutorial for keeping your bathroom floor dry, and thus lengthening the life of your bath mat. Read more »

DIY Wine cork bath mat

CB2 bamboo bath mat

Inspired by CB2's bamboo bath mat

I’m evidently on a hot-glue kick lately. This bath mat requires just three materials: shelf liner, hot glue, and 175 wine corks. How did I gather 175 wine corks, you ask? Working at Sunset had its perks. With all the wine tastings in that office, collecting corks was a cinch. So far, I’ve made a wine cork trivet with them and now this cork bath mat.

It was inspired by CB2’s bamboo bath mat, which is perfectly lovely and affordable but too big for my tiny bathroom, hence this equally eco-friendly version. My sister Christy gave me the genius idea of using non-adhesive shelf liner with a grip bottom, so it stays in place. The cork feels good on my bare feet, plus it goes perfectly with the natural color palette of my bathroom.

Yeah, but how durable is it, you say? Hmm. I’ll test it out for a few weeks and let you know how it holds up. UPDATE: Check this post for updates on the bath mat and to read about whether you should seal yours. Read more »

Bathroom makeover - after

Bathroom makeover - before

With a wall-mounted sink and no storage to speak of, my small bathroom needed a little help. Paint isn’t an option, and the neutral tile colors limited my color choices, so I decided to go with natural wood and the colors of seashells. I found the spacesaver on Craigslist, the jars at Ikea, the waffle-weave shower curtain at Kmart (Martha Stewart’s line), and the basket at Michael’s. The seashells are strung with twine through holes drilled in each shell. I sewed a canvas cover for the wicker tissue box and attached it with wooden buttons. I also made the seashell shadow box. Read more »